The worst thing happens during a big presentation. You get to that important slide, pause for reaction, and... nothing. This can happen even when you and your audience are in the same room. But the awkward pause can feel even longer when you are delivering your presentation remotely.
Our team at Aha! is completely distributed. Everybody works remotely. We are all well-versed in best practices for presenting via video meetings. (And no one even flinches when their dog starts yapping at a squirrel.) But the challenges of remote presentations is not just a concern for distributed teams.
According to Harvard Business Review authors Scott Berinato and Nancy Duarte, 80 percent of presentations are now delivered remotely. So no matter where you work, there is a good chance that you will find yourself in this situation. You need to know what to do before, during, and after your presentation to make it a success.
Here are four ways to deliver a superb remote presentation:
Know the technology
You must familiarize yourself with whatever software and hardware you will be using. The worst and most common mistakes I have seen were avoidable technology fails -- such as not knowing how to share the computer screen, mute the mic to silence background noise, or get the webcam working. These gaffes can make you look unprofessional and derail an otherwise excellent presentation.
Show your face
The days of awkward conference call presentations are over. Our team at Aha! conducts meetings and presentations exclusively over web video. It is much easier to engage an audience when they can see your face. But it is not just the presenter who joins on video -- we ask the entire "room" to share their webcams as well. Being able to see your audience is critical to knowing if they are following along and engaging.
It does not matter what you look like -- if you do not give people something to look at besides your face, they will tune you out. This is especially a risk with a remote audience who can check their email or shop online in another browser window. Keep their attention with interesting visuals that complement (but do not repeat verbatim) what you are saying. Be aware that people will be watching you on a variety of devices and screen sizes. So do not use visuals that are too detailed -- keep the text short and the font large.
Another way to guard against multitaskers is to get your audience involved. Build in pauses to ask questions or discuss what you have covered so far. If the group is small enough, go around to each person and ask for a response or an idea. Also, encourage your audience to post questions and comments to you and each other in the chat window of your online conference tool. The more of a two-way conversation you can make your presentation, the better.
Take steps in the following days and weeks to keep the conversation going over chat or email. For example, you can share a version of the presentation itself with related action items. Repay people's curiosity and engagement by responding promptly to questions and comments. Even though you might not get in-person time with your audience, you still have ways of keeping them thinking about your main takeaways long after the presentation is over.
Giving a presentation to a distributed audience is no more difficult than doing it in person. It just takes awareness and forethought. You owe it to your audience and to yourself to be prepared.
What are your tips for giving a remote presentation?